When it comes to making city government more transparent, one Sioux Falls City Councilor has perspective and experience that makes her uniquely qualified to forge ahead in her endeavor.

Janet Brekke has made her mark both inside and outside city government, working as a city attorney under five different administrations. Since leaving City Hall, Brekke laments that many protective systems have been removed over the last 14 years.

“A lot of it was done for expediency and maybe even innocuously. A lot of it was done because the last two Mayors have both been pretty autocratic in their style. They just wanted to get things done fast and efficiently. In the name of that, the public process has been left out.

The example that Brekke cites is the recent proposal regarding changing the time of public input at City Council meetings that came in seemingly whirlwind fashion.

“Why are ordinances that are brought by one City Councilor with a sign-off by another being put on for a first read without ever presenting them to the rest of the Council? You’re talking in a hurry for the week and a half that you have before you the second reading and you’re actually negotiating your ordinances instead of collaborating. You don’t fast-track every ordinance.”

In some cases, Brekke can allow for expediency such as the appropriation for the USD Discovery Center because the concept had long been public knowledge. Brekke says she is trying to show the value to her colleagues about slowing down the process to make sure ordinances are finished products before council consideration.


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